ANDERSON, S.C. (courtesy andersonuniversity.edu) — Devin Allen, a student in the Anderson University College of Health Professions, was awarded a scholarship through the Fullerton Foundation that will help her fulfill the dream of becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) and someday providing care to patients in an underserved rural area.
The Fullerton Medical Scholarship Program seeks to improve the availability of primary care providers in Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina by providing significant tuition assistance to medical students and student nurse practitioners who intend to practice some form of primary care.
The Fullerton Scholarship’s objective is “to support the growth and development of family nurse practitioners who demonstrate the potential for development into a highly capable clinical professional, concern with the total welfare of society of which he/she is an active participant, and intention to practice primary care in Upstate South Carolina or Western North Carolina upon completion of school and training.”
Allen has been a registered nurse for more than seven years. She has worked as a nurse at various hospitals in the Carolinas and was also a traveling nurse in California. Currently working for Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina, she learned about Anderson University’s Family Nurse Practitioner program from a friend who graduated from the program. When Allen graduates in December 2022, she says she’ll be one of the first in her immediate family to earn an advanced degree.
Allen appreciates that Anderson University is a Christ-Centered university and also how the faculty and staff helped her transition back into the classroom several years after she earned her bachelor’s degree.
“Everyone has been so incredibly nice and very helpful. Many of my professors say ‘we’re just a phone call away’ and often reassure the students by letting us know ‘we are here and we’re praying for each of you.’ I couldn’t be more grateful for their encouraging words and genuine support,” Allen said. “I’ve not had one unpleasant interaction from anyone at Anderson, which speaks to the integrity of those who call this university home.”
Rural health is a passion close to Allen’s heart. Having grandparents and other family members living in rural Stokes, Scotland, and Rockingham counties in North Carolina, she’s seen firsthand where the needs lie.
“I have a personal connection to rural communities because both of my grandmothers lived in small towns in North Carolina. While visiting, I was able to see firsthand the vast differences in the quality of healthcare within smaller rural areas,” Allen said. “There is a clear need for increased access to specialists and improved healthcare quality overall.”
An experience with one of her grandmothers first sparked in Allen an interest to pursue nursing as a career. When her grandmother was hospitalized and fell into a coma, Allen remembered how the nurses encouraged her and family members to stay by her grandmother’s side, talk with her and play the gospel music she loved to hear, while in the hospital.
“The hope and the light in this very difficult situation were the nurses,” Allen said. “I remember the doctors being very surprised that my mother and I were still coming back to the hospital and that my grandma was continuing to fight. The happy ending for my family was that my grandmother fully awoke from her coma and was able to leave the hospital. She told us, ‘I felt you all there with me, I heard the music.’”
Allen plans to practice within primary care in a rural area in North Carolina or South Carolina and has an interest in advocating for holistic healthcare, seeking natural alternatives for patients who are on multiple medications and not experiencing symptom relief or improved quality of life.
When asked what gives her the biggest sense of accomplishment in her job, Allen said, “Honestly, when my patients say that I have helped to brighten their day during a difficult time and when patients thank me for taking care of them, affirm that I’ve been a great nurse, and ask if I’ll be back again the next day.”
Allen herself feels peace now as she turns to God in prayer over challenges she faces in her daily routines caring for patients.
As for moving from her more urban surroundings to serve patients in a rural area, Allen says, “I’m familiar with smaller towns because of my family, but I am not naïve to the unique challenges I may encounter daily within these communities. If I can assist in improving the quality of life for just one person, this will be all I need to stay the course.”